Buckle down on the books or don’t strap on the gloves.
That’s the latest message from Fivestar Mixed Martial Arts, a training facility in Fort St. John that has decided a C+ average (68-72 per cent) must be maintained in order to keep training for kids under the age of 18 in its competitive kickboxing/boxing program.
Head coach Justin Donally said the idea was sparked by several conversations with parents, as well as a few kids he knows are struggling in school simply because they aren’t trying.
“You get the odd kid that struggles in school or just don’t try because they don’t need to or they have nothing to hold them accountable,” Donally said.
“As we strive to be better in sport, lets make it in and out of the gym for their schoolwork and make them accountable for everything.”
As a young kid, Donally remembers struggling in school and views the new policy at Fivestar as a way to challenge youths to strive for something bigger than just athletic achievement.
“I don’t think a 70 per cent grade average in school is that hard to maintain. I almost did it when I was that age,” Donally chuckled. “I didn’t have the same kind of opportunities these kids have. We put it out there and I’m going to get progress reports from the teachers… we’re going to take this next step in performance training and developing performance athletes, and they’re going to perform in the school as well as the gym.”
So far, after posting the policy on the club’s Facebook page, he added that he’s had a huge positive response from parents.
“They love it,” Donally said of the reply to the new policy. “I have nothing but compliments and thank yous all the way around. The parents like how strict I am with my programs for the kids… it’s something I find is missing in school, everybody gets floated through... in here they get rewarded for hard work and they get punished for not working hard or stepping out of line.”
Donally also said that after meeting with a few upper echelon boxing coaches, the idea to make sure his competitive fighters maintain a certain level of academic requirements came about.
Donally also noted there’s about 80-90 kids from ages four to 18 in the kickboxing program, about 25 looking to make the jump to BC provincials in October of 2017.
He expects to implement the new program in the New Year.